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7 Tricks To Memorize Irish Dance Steps


Nina is an adult Irish dancer based in Belgrade, Serbia. For more, connect with her on twitter @GingerLujka.

Memorizing steps is one of those things that become easier with experience. The more you dance, the easier it gets to remember new steps. But even the most experienced dancers need to work on remembering their steps which are sometimes very complicated and difficult not to forget. If you are a beginner, this might be the biggest problem you are facing now in your dance life.

Here are some tricks you can use to quickly remember new steps and choreographies.

1. Repeat the new steps as many times as you can during the first class you learn them.

You don’t have to do them perfectly; just try to go through them all, one by one, as many times as you can. It really is like riding a bike – let muscle memory work for you.

2. Repeat at home or the next morning.

Go through the steps once or twice after having a good night sleep. Also, a very good time to go through steps is waiting for the bus or train – just marking them or even better dancing with your hands. It’s helpful and it helps pass the time!

3. Record a video.

Ask your teacher or even a friend to go through the steps while you record them. This way, even if you forget a part of the step or you can’t get the rhythm, you can just replay the video and remind yourself. We have significantly shortened the time needed for learning the new steps at my school since we started recording videos of steps and posting them online for all the dancers to download on their computers and phones.

4. Record your teacher lilting the steps.

This is very useful when learning the steps with more complicated rhythms. If it’s easier, you can ask your teacher to ‘sing’ the steps for you. Singing steps is a very practical method, because you can always, at a time of need, call your friend on the phone and ask him or her to sing the steps to you.

5. Write the steps down in a notebook.

But, this only helps if you also do 1 and 2. Usually, you only need your notes once or twice, but the simple act of writing them down, just like with anything else, will improve and make the learning process go faster. It can also come in handy if, years later, you need those steps again for some special occasion (perhaps teaching your own beginner’s class).

6. Go through the steps in your mind.

This is another great way to pass the time on the way to work or school, or dance practice or wherever you need to go. If you’re on your way to a feis and you feel insecure about the steps, put your headphones on and go through the steps in your head, rather than just shuffle through your playlist. I usually do this before I go to sleep the night before an important performance – and it really helps.

7. Practice to slower music first.

“Oh my God, what comes next?!” usually happens when you focus on the rhythm and the speed of steps. Until you are completely confident that you know all the steps and their correct order, you can practice to the slower music and raise the tempo from there.

But the most important thing is to relax and keep on practicing. Even if you are, like myself, a slow learner, you will eventually get there, as long as you are persistent and you discover (and stick to) whatever works for you when it comes to memorizing new steps.
Photo credit: Image is courtesy of belongs to author.

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